Potter's Wheel Classes with Cinda Mefferd

How long does it take to learn?

It takes a minimum of three separate lessons, with some days in between to finish a pot.

The pot must be:
  1. Made
  2. Dried partially to the "leather hard" stage. Finished on the bottom.
  3. Dried entirely and "bisque" fired.
  4. Glazed and fired a second time.

During the first four lessons:

Students are usually able to make one or several pots with some help preparing the clay, centering, and trimming the foot (finishing the bottom of the pot). Because each step takes time and pots need to dry before being fired, it is likely that an additional lesson or two will be required to glaze these pots.

Within the next four lessons:

Students will be over the challenge of each step being new and there being too much to remember at once. Basics such as wheel speed, hand-positions, terminology, and use of tools will be fairly familiar and workable. Reminders such as "speed up the wheel" are needed but less often and the eye is already becoming trained. More key details will be noted and integrated during demonstrations and practice.

At this stage, for most people the most difficult aspect is holding one's hands steady enough to center the clay. Centering might take an hour for one piece or go more rapidly and feel like a combination of skill and luck. Getting some help is a good idea to avoid excess frustration and to recognize how centered clay feels.

Students will probably have a sense of whether they want to continue or stop. Those continuing on may be dreaming of getting a wheel and be eager to make more pots. Creativity is likely to spark ideas for pots, and style may already be developing.

Three to five months of lessons once a week and some practice:

A deeper understanding of potting and enough skill to go from beginner to advanced-beginner or intermediate occurs for most students. Generally, pots takes less time to produce and are more refined. Quite a few pots have been finished and put to use, which increases awareness of function and provides the satisfaction of making pots and using them or giving them as gifts.

After six months to a year:

Centering should be quite consistent and shapes such as bowls, plates, cups, and cylinders explored but not fully refined. Varying amounts of clay from small to fairly large have been used.

Perhaps, the time-honored exercise of throwing (making) cylinders for practice and cutting them in half to evaluate wall thickness has been done at least a few times and some people spend more time on this very valuable exercise.

During the second year and beyond:

Shape is studied in-depth and skills are further developed. One's direction with clay whether for avocation or vocation is more clear as well as how classical or unconventional to be with subject and design.

From the first lesson onward, learn what the finishing touches (refinements) are and do them.

For a pot's rim, a quality job of finishing is a four-step process of:
  1. seeing the rough rim,
  2. wanting to fix it,
  3. learning how,
  4. doing so thoroughly.
Many refinements are not difficult to accomplish when examples are given. Study pots carefully. What makes one more polished than another?

Natural talent is an asset that reduces learning time. However, effective practice and the passion to continue are the workhorses of accomplishment.

Call Cinda 831-336-8021